Importance Of Utazi (Gongronema Latifolium) And Nchuanwu (Ocimum Gratissium) In Human Body
The research work was focused on the possible vitamin composition of Utazi (Gongronema latifolium) and Nchuanwu (Ocimum gratissimum) leaf juice. Here, it was only the vitamin A and C that were scientifically tested for. Where upon, it was discovered that Utazi had 1.14mglml of vitamin A and 34:61mg1 100m1 of vitamin C, while Nchuanwu had 2.14mglm1 of vitamin A and 30.76mg1 100m1 of vitamin C. From the result gotten, it shows that Utazi and Nchanwu are good sources of vitamin A and C, with high industrial and medicinal prospects.
1.0.1 Utazi (Gongronema latifolium/ Bush buck), leaf vegetable and belong to the group of plants known as spices. It is of the family of ASCLEPIADACEA genus GONGRONEMA and species of LATIFOLIUM, and the vernacular name is BUSH BUCK while the botanical name GONGRONEMA lATIFOLIUM. Utazi is a climber with woody hollow glaborous stems below and characterized by greenish yellow flowers (Okolo 1987).
Gongronema latifolium, commonly called ‘utazi’ by the Igbo’s, the efik / ibibo people in South-eastern Nigeria call the leave ‘utasi’ and the Yoruba people ‘arokeke’ or ‘madumaro’ (Ugochukwu and Babady, 2002). In Ghana, the akan-asantes knows it as ‘kurutu nsurogya’. The serer in Senegal call it ‘gasub’ while the kissis, mende and temnes in sierra leone call it ‘ndondo-polole, ‘tawabembe’ and ‘ra-bilong’ respectively (Dalziel et at, 1961). They are sharp bitter and sweet and widely used as a leafy vegetable and as a spice for sauce, soups and salad (Okolo 1987, Anaso and Onochie 1999). Utazi is used in small quantity in preparing soups like Nsala soup, ugba sauce, and yam and also in garnishing dish like Abacha, Ncha, Isiewu, Nkwobi etc. The leaves are used to spice locally brewed beer. In Sierra Leone the pliable stems are used as chew sticks. The bark contains much latex and has been tasted for exploitation (Morebise et al., 2002).
Reports by various authors showed that it essential oils, saponins and pregnanes among others (Schneider et al; 1993, Morebise and Fafunso 1998, morebise et al; 202). The plant has been widely used in folk medicine for maintaining healthy blood glucose level (Okafor 1987, 1989). The plant leaves have been found very efficacious as an anti-diarrhea, and anti-tussive (Sofoware 1982, Iwu, 1993).
1.0.2 Nchuanwu (ocimum gratissimum / clove Basil), leafy vegetable and belong to the group of plant known as spices. It is of family of LAMIACEAC genus OCIMUM and species O.GRATISSIMUM and the vernacular name is CLOVE BASIL while the botanical name OCIMUM GRATISSIMUM. Nchuanwu is widely distributed in the tropics of Africa and Asia. It is a perennial plant that is woody at the base. It has average height of 1-3m high. The leaves are broad and narrowly ovate, usually 5-13cm long and 3-9cm wide. It is a scented shrub with lime-green fuzzy leaves (Wagner et al; 1999).
In Southern part of Nigeria, the plant is called “effinrin-nia” by the Yoruba,”Nchuanwu” in Igbo, while in the Southern part of Nigeria, the Hausa call it “Daidoya”. (Effraim et al; 2002).
Nutritional importance of this plant centers on it’s usefulness as a seasoning because of its aromatic flavor (C.N. Ezekwesili et at; 2004).
Nchuanwu in folk medicine, ocimum gratissimum is extensively used throughout West Africa as a febrifuge, anti-malaria and anti-convulsant. The leaf juice is used in the treatment of stomach pain and catarrh. Oil from leaves have been found to posses antiseptics, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activities (Ezekwesile et al; 2004).
In the coastal area of Nigeria, the plant is used in the treatment of epilepsy (Osifo, 1992) high fever (Oliver 1980) and diarrhea (Oliver 1980 and Sofoware 1993). While in the savannah areas decoctions of the leaves are used to treat mental illness (Abdulrahman, 1992).
Nchuanwu is used by the Ibos of Southern Nigeria in the management of the baby cord. It is believed to keep the baby’s cord and wound surface sterile. It is used in the treatment of fungal infections, fever, cold and catarrh (Iwu, 1986).
They play quite significant role in our diets of the population because they are major sources of essential macro nutrients, micro nutrients and vitamins.
Due to their seasonal nature and high moisture content, there is need therefore to develop an appropriate technology for their preservation so as to guarantee their availability all year round (Eze and Chibuzor 2008).
1.1 Aim and Objective
The aim of this project work is to determine the vitamin composition of Utazi and Nchuanwu leaf juice (vitamin A and C).
Vitamins are organic molecules required for certain metabolic functions that must be supplied in very small amount less than 50mg/day. It was the presence of vitamin A and C Utazi and Nchuanwu that was explored and isolated in this research work. This research was conducted in line with the effort of the food technologists to research and give educated information on health potential food to the society.
After the scientific test, it was found that 2.14mg/ml of vitamin A and 30.76mg/100ml exists in Nchuanwu, while 1.14mg/ml vitamin A and 34.61mg/100ml of vitamin C was contained in utazi. These were gotten using the standard AOAC official method. Sequel to the result, it is now known that the vitamin A composition in Nchuanwu was higher than that of Utazi, while the vitamin c composition of utazi is higher than that of Nchuanwu. Onola etal; (2014) reported on the vitamin C content of utazi and Nchuanwu, which in their work was said to have 96.87mg/100g and 28.27mg/100g respectively for fresh sample with the dry sample having 23.50mg/100g and 6.30mg/100g of vitamin C, for utazi and Nchuanwu leaves respectively. Here the amount of vitamin C in the dry sample of utazi found in their work was a bit lesser than what is being gotten in this work. And also the vitamin C content in utazi (fresh sample) of their work is much higher than what is gotten here, having 96.87mg/100g of vitamin C.
The above information is quite pertinent to present days scientists, industrial application and medicinal prospects.
This work has shown that utazi (Gongroema latifolium) and Nchuanwu (ocimum gratissimum) leaves have potentials for use in food operations in view of its vitamin A and vitamin C contents.
In the view of quantity or the amount of vitamin A and C contained in utazi (Gongronema latifolium) and Nchuanwu (ocimum gratissimum) of these samples and the importance of utazi and Nchuanwu in the body. It is recommended that consumption of such local spices like utazi and Nchuanwu should be encouraged in our localities.
Secondly, our food technologists or chemist should endeavor to set up farm land for the cultivation of utazi and Nchuanwu.
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